Spinning

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Spinning (paperback)

by Tillie Walden

 

Spinning is a graphic novel memoir about the author, Tillie.  She says her book is about ice skating, but it is really about her youth while ice skating.  Tillie struggled with coming out as gay to her conservative family and friends in Austin, Texas.  She also struggled with a mother who seemed less than supportive and her absent family.  Tillie needed a place to fit, but didn’t feel like she belonged anywhere.  Although she was a successful ice skater, she didn’t enjoy it, and ended up quitting once she started to take control of her life.

What I liked about this book was the emotion Tillie put into her memoir so the reader feels her struggles.  I am not gay, I have never been sexually assaulted, and I have never been pressured in a competitive sport, but the author writes so we can have compassion for Tillie’s experiences.  That is the one thing that people wrote when reviewing this graphic novel- we feel Tillie’s heartbreak, depression, frustration, embarrassment, etc. as we read her words.  Although it is kind of an aside, I also enjoyed learning more about competitive figure skating.

What I didn’t like about this book was the way people were so unaccepting of Tillie when they weren’t in a place to have a say in her life.  I hate when people are bullied and the bullies aren’t punished, or the protagonist isn’t avenged.  However, that’s life.  My bullies are probably still bullying, or basically being awful people to others.  I wanted to see her mother redeem herself or her girlfriend get back into contact with her, or the man who assaulted her- he needed to be caught and punished!  Those things never happened (in the book).

Book 3 of 2019

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Amulet Series

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Amulet Series (paperback)

by Kazu Kibuishi

 

Amulet is about a girl named Emily who discovers a mysterious secret about herself and her grandfather when her mom and brother are kidnapped by a mysterious creature.  She sets out to save them and discovers a world she’s never imagined.

What I liked about this series is how incredibly engaging it is for my students.  They love it, and can’t get enough of it.  I respect that.  Any series that gets my students to read is golden in my book.  I preordered the most recent book and there were fights over who got it next.

What I didn’t like about this series… It’s not that I didn’t like it.  I can see the merit behind it, the skill and natural talent for storytelling and imagination the author has, and why is is so acclaimed.  It just wasn’t for me.  It’s like so many singers out there.  They have awesome voices and amazing skill, but I just don’t care for their music.  This is a wonderful series for basically everyone out there, and I am looking forward to seeing how the series will end in book 9, but I am not holding my breath or fangirling over it.

 

Book 92 of 2018 (#1)

Book 93 of 2018 (#2)

Book 95 of 2018 (#3)

Book 96 of 2018 (#4)

Book 97 of 2018 (#5)

Book 98 of 2018 (#6)

Book 99 of 2018 (#7)

Book 100 of 2018 (#8)

 

100 books in 2018!  I met my goal!  Hooray!  And yes, in the final 2 hours of 2018, because I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a procrastinator.

Making Friends

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Making Friends (paperback)

by Kristen Gudsnuk

 

I honestly don’t remember when I read this book, but I know it was this month.  I hate when things are out of order, but it can’t be helped.  It’s been a busy month!

Making Friends is the story of a girl who is unhappy with herself, so she finds a magical book and is able to draw what she desires.  That happens to be a friend.  Then she realizes the consequences, because she isn’t truly happy, even when it seems she has what she wants.

What I liked about this book is that it is a relatable story.  It is odd and unrealistic in that a girl can draw things that come to life, but she has doubts about her own self-worth and wants to fit in.  This is something I am positive my own students deal with regularly, and reading a story they can relate to with a relevant moral at the end is something I want them reading, so it is worth putting onto my shelf, even if it wasn’t my favorite book of the year.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I felt genuinely upset for the magical friend who didn’t understand why she didn’t have family.  That bothered me, because she herself felt out of place and sad that her family didn’t care.

Book 91 of 2018

All Summer Long

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All Summer Long (paperback)

by Hope Larson

 

All Summer Long is about a girl named Bina and her summer of change.  Her best friend, Austin, has gone to soccer camp for a month, and all of her other friends are busy.  Her mom and dad take her Netflix away, so Bina is forced to spend time with her best friend’s sister.  They bond over music and babysitting until Bina irritates her and is then left to find something to do on her own.  This is a story about Bina finding herself and pursuing her own passions while learning to accept change.  It also shows that friends can still be close, even when they have different interests.

What I liked about this book was that Bina stayed true to herself.  She reacted in normal ways when her feelings were hurt, but at the same time, she didn’t let other people tell her who she should be or how she should react to things.  I also liked that when they got to eighth grade, Bina didn’t conform to her friends’ or peers’ expectations.  She wanted to start a band, and despite fear of rejection, she tried it anyway.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I didn’t feel like Austin really redeemed himself.  He should have been a better friend to Bina!

Book 88 of 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker

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The Prince and the Dressmaker (paperback)

by Jen Wang

 

I really enjoyed The Prince and the Dressmaker, a graphic novel about a girl who makes dresses for rich women, but isn’t able to show her true skills, until a prince hires her to make dresses for him.  He doesn’t want anyone to know his secret, so he keeps his female persona a secret and flaunts Frances’s designs as a woman.  He finds himself torn between his need to be who he really is, and his duty to his country and his family.

What I liked about this story is more than I can write without giving everything away.  The climax will leave you giggling, and the pictures are stunning.  I saw this on many Mock Caldecott lists, and I can see the merit in the illustrations.  However, I also have to say that I’m thrilled there is a book about a man who wants to dress as a woman, because it is something I haven’t read in a book suitable for children.  It is a complicated topic, but this story addresses the issue with likable characters who show acceptance.

There was nothing I didn’t like about this story!

Book 86 of 2018

Sheets

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Sheets (paperback)

by Brenna Thummler

 

Sheets was interesting.  It is about a girl who is about to lose her mother’s laundry business, which would be devastating, because her mother died and her dad is still in a deep depression.  She is being harassed by a man who wants to take the business and have her work and his new day spa.  A ghost shows up and saves the day.  Honestly, it was cute, but I don’t remember much.  Maybe that’s what I liked and didn’t like!  Or maybe I should try keeping up with my writing.

Book 83 of 2018

Squish: Fear the Amoeba

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Squish: Fear the Amoeba (hardcover)

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

 

Squish is an amoeba who loves reading comics.  He has friends and a family and lives like your average child.  In this book, he is afraid to tell his friends that a certain movie scares him.  They are really into the movie, but after watching it, he is scared of everything, and more afraid to tell them, because he doesn’t want to be made fun of.  It is funny and relatable for kids.

What I loved about this book is it is another series by Jennifer L. Holm and her brother Matthew Holm, creators of Babymouse.  I am a huge fan of Babymouse, because they are the way my oldest daughter learned to love reading.  The short graphic novels are engaging and easy to read, and teach some sort of lesson or moral.  If you have a first grader (or somewhere in the range) who is learning to read, or even a child who isn’t loving reading, definitely pick up Babymouse or Squish.

What I didn’t like about the book was that it took me a few minutes to read (and not much longer for my 8 year old).  I love that my kids love the series, but it won’t last them very long!

Book 81 of 2018